Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Six Legs in the Bed


It should be no surprise to anyone that I sleep with my dog. I’ve blogged about giving up on crate training. I’ve posted a picture of her on the bed. Truth is, she’s been sleeping on my bed – and I’ve been receiving flack for it – practically since day one. My 84-year old father has been the most vocal about his displeasure, presumably on behalf of the entire family.

Him: “It’s just not right. Dogs should not sleep on beds, period.”

Me: “Why? Where is that written?”

Him: “It’s not written anywhere. It’s just common sense. Dogs are dirty and you don’t want that mess in your bed.”

Me: “But she doesn’t sleep in the bed. She sleeps on the bed.”

Him: “It’s not right, I’m telling you.”

Several months ago his tune changed slightly.

Him: “Well, it’s your bed. I guess you can do what you want with it.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Him: “But I still don’t think it’s right, and I don’t know what you’re going to do when you visit other people.”

Me: “Your concerns have been noted, and I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

Of course, my father has a point. No one wants this dog on their bed.

Dirty Ruby

By now, however, she knows the routine. When we return home after playing down and dirty at the dog park or beach, she follows me to the bathroom and hops into the bathtub to receive a very thorough wash from head to toe without squirming or crying. I think baths make her feel better because afterwards she literally hops around the apartment like a gazelle on speed.

Like any little lady, she also always “bathes” herself – twice – at night and in the morning. There’s a reason why the three most common compliments she receives are: “beautiful… well-behaved… clean.”

Ruby sitting pretty

Shedding is another matter. She does leave little white hairs everywhere, but most of the time she sleeps on top of a blue blanket that I wash every week.

Rare are moments like the other night when I returned from brushing my teeth to find this:

Ruby hiding in bed

(For the record, she was still on top of the top sheet.)

Then there is the negotiation of space. I still sleep on the same side of the bed I did when Kaz was here. Ruby usually falls asleep at the bottom half of the bed, and uses my foot as a pillow. We shift in the middle of the night – me to my right side, she to a curled up ball behind my legs. We shift again in the morning – me to my left side, she completely stretched out (vertically) from one end of the bed to the other.

Sometimes she sleeps like this:

Ruby upside down

She continues sleeping while I shower, get dressed, prepare breakfast and put on my makeup. But when I enter the room with my usual “Good morning sunshine, time for breakfast,” I always find her lying on her stomach, bright-eyed, wagging her tail. I imagine she slowly wakes up to the sounds of me puttering about the apartment.

On the weekends, we both sleep in… until she gives me this look, which means it’s time to get up:

Ruby wanting to go out

I know it’s unorthodox. I know it will complicate matters if/when I start dating again (she will adapt). I also know I’m not alone. The lady who ran her Vermont daycare slept with her husband and four other large dogs (five when Ruby lived there) in the bed. And the lady featured in this 2011 New York Times article sleeps with a pot-bellied pig, two kittens and three terriers.

From that NYT article:

Figures vary, but according to a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 to 62 percent of the 165 million dogs and cats in this country sleep in bed with humans, with other surveys skewing higher.

Another study warns that… allowing pets to sleep in the bed can be dangerous and can spread zoonoses (pronounced zoh-AN-ee-sees), pathogens that go from animals to people… They cite instances of fleas from cats transmitting bubonic plague. Catch scratch fever is a danger, too, they say, as are various forms of meningitis, Pasturella pneumonia and other infections.

(Bubonic plague? Geez.)

All I know is having Ruby on the bed makes me feel super safe. More than anything, I find it comforting and bonding. I think she does too, as she sleeps beside me wherever I am in the apartment. As long as we’re both parasite-free, wound-free, allergy-free and disease-free, I can’t see the harm in waking up to this every day. Can you?

Ruby sleeping and smiling

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

14 thoughts on “Six Legs in the Bed

  1. I couldn’t do it but it’s a personal preference and maybe better than sleeping alone!

  2. Ahhhh. I wod have Pee sleep with me, but my allergies will not allow it. Her father let her sleep with him (and us when we were together). Now she sleeps with my son. When he is at his dad’s she sleeps on the bed – takes up the whole thing. It is her bed after all;). Oh, she does have one less leg, but she still manages to take up a ton of space!!

    • Aww, that’s so sweet that she sleeps with your son. I imagine that is comforting for both of them. Isn’t it funny how much space they can take up even though they’re (usually) so much smaller than we are?

  3. In our bed, before my lovely dog passed, there was me, the husband, two cats and a dog. Made for a very crowded bed!

  4. Oh I love the pictures you post of Ruby! She looks so sweet. Sometimes my husband and I let Pickles (our dog) sleep with us but it gets crowded because we also have two cats. I don’t think there is really any increased health risk. You already live with the animals, pet them, play with them, feed them and clean their poop up.

    • Thanks! And good point. There’s really no escaping if the animal lives in the house with you. You interact with them no matter what. Reminds me of a moment I witnessed yesterday at the dog park. A man who doesn’t own a dog but came with a friend who does, said he didn’t want the dogs to touch him. His friend was like, “You can’t come to the dog park and not have dogs touch you. This is their park.”

  5. Such a great post!! The pics of Ruby are wonderful! I can’t believe that Ruby is so good at being cleaned up!
    I’m not a dog / cat in the bed kind of person, but my best friend her husband have had as many as 4 dogs in the bed at a time 🙂

  6. Reggie sleeps in bed with me — on top of the covers just like Ruby. He usually sleeps perpendicular which makes it a little more crowded, but that’s fine. I had to laugh when I read this because he often sleeps on his back with all 4 paws in the air and when I get up for work, he stays in bed until I finish my morning routine. Then we go into the kitchen for breakfast.
    When I go out of town, my friend comes to stay with him. She doesn’t like him in the bed and he’s learned to go to his dog bed when she’s here. He seems to understand.

  7. She’s a Sweetheart! From my experience, my only concern would be ticks.

    I think you are very fortunate to have someone of her abilities to look after you. And her, you.

    Rock on.

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